Things You Didn’t Know About '90s Sitcom Stars

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Vote up the surprising stories about the actors who made '90s TV 'must see.'

The 1990s was a decade that produced some great television sitcomsSeinfeld. Friends. Roseanne. Frasier. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Mad About You. The list goes on and on. And those shows turned many actors into television stars. But how did they land the part that made them famous, and how did they deal with being in the spotlight? 

From having to open up about their past to struggling with addiction to not wanting to be identified with a name other than his own to being brought onto the show as a replacement for the person originally cast in the part, here are some behind-the-scenes stories about a few of our favorite 1990s sitcom stars. 


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    2,097 VOTES

    Tim Allen Went Public About His Arrest History Before The First ‘Home Improvement’ Aired So A Scandal Wouldn’t Derail The Show

    Tim Allen Went Public About His Arrest History Before The First ‘Home Improvement’ Aired So A Scandal Wouldn’t Derail The Show
    Photo: ABC

    Before he became a famous actor and comedian, Tim Allen had a troubled life. A recovering alcoholic (he has now been sober for more than 20 years), he had started drinking when he was just 10 years old - one year before his father was killed in a car accident. He also struggled with drugs, and in 1978, the then-25-year-old pled guilty to drug trafficking charges after being caught at Kalamazoo/Battle Creek (MI) International Airport with more than one pound of cocaine in his luggage. He ended up serving two years in jail.

    Allen had started his career as a comedian before his arrest, and he resumed this work after his release from prison, eventually becoming a regular at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles and performing his stand-up act on various late-night talk shows. Despite his limited acting skills and experience, he was cast as the lead in the ABC sitcom Home Improvement

    Shortly before the first episode of Home Improvement was scheduled to air, the actor learned that some of the tabloids were digging into his past, which led to him telling the show's producers about his criminal history.

    "Before we talked to Tim or anyone, I said, 'The worst thing we could do is try and hide this.' And I said, 'Let's talk to ABC, let's talk to Disney, and I think what Tim should do instantly is go out public and explain his story and get it out there,'" series co-creator Matt Williams said in an interview for the Home Improvement episode of E! True Hollywood Story.

    Allen agreed to come clean. Williams believed the actor's willingness to be open resulted in the media backing off, allowing the series to move forward as scheduled. It debuted on September 17, 1991, and quickly became a hit - in fact, it ranked in the Top 10 of the Nielsen ratings in all eight of the years it was on the air.

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    1,496 VOTES

    Roseanne And John Goodman Acted Like An Old Married Couple So Naturally, He Was The Only Actor They Auditioned For The Role Of Barr's Husband

    Roseanne And John Goodman Acted Like An Old Married Couple So Naturally, He Was The Only Actor They Auditioned For The Role Of Barr's Husband
    Photo: Roseanne / ABC

    In 1987, Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner were working as executive producers on The Cosby Show when they commissioned Matt Williams to write a pilot script for a potential series about a white working-class family. They then signed stand-up comic Roseanne Barr to be the female lead. Because she was an inexperienced actor, the plan was to cast skilled, experienced actors in the other roles, so that Barr could learn from them.

    According to Barr, John Goodman was the only actor who actually read for the part of her husband. "There were more [auditions] planned, but the second I met [Goodman], I fell in love with him," the actor told Entertainment Weekly in 2018.

    "I went in there, and it was just easy as pie," Goodman agreed. "We got along great. For some reason, I just knew I had the job."

    Matt Williams agreed with Barr and Goodman that there had been an immediate connection between the two actors: "We brought him [Goodman] in the room, he looked at Roseanne, and said, 'Scoot over,'" he told EW. "She said, 'Shut up,' he plopped down, and it was like they had been married for 16 years."

    The chemistry between the lead actors paid off big time, as Roseanne became a huge hit for ABC, ranking in the Top 5 of the Nielsen ratings in each of its first six seasons.

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    1,879 VOTES

    Will Smith Wanted His ‘Fresh Prince’ Character To Have His Name So He Wouldn’t Be Forever Associated With Some Fake Name

    Will Smith Wanted His ‘Fresh Prince’ Character To Have His Name So He Wouldn’t Be Forever Associated With Some Fake Name
    Photo: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air / NBC

    On his iconic 1990s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will Smith's character is called - Will Smith!

    Yes, he uses his real name. Why? Well, when the rapper turned movie star had his Fresh Prince co-star Alfonso Ribeiro on his Will From Home Snapchat in 2020, the pair revealed that it was Ribeiro who came up with the idea. 

    "We had talked, and I said, 'Look, if you're ever going to do this show, you've got to be Will Smith,'" Ribeiro remembered.

    "You said 'Because people are going to call you that for the rest of your life!'" Smith laughingly agreed.

    Unfortunately, Ribeiro himself fell victim to this exact drawback - even years after the show ended, he had trouble booking work because casting directors worried that audiences would only ever see him as ‘Carlton.’ 

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    1,195 VOTES

    Frasier's Brother Was Only Created After A Casting Director Noticed David Hyde Pierce's Resemblance To Kelsey Grammer

    Frasier's Brother Was Only Created After A Casting Director Noticed David Hyde Pierce's Resemblance To Kelsey Grammer
    Photo: Frasier / NBC

    If it wasn't for the fact that he resembled his future castmate, David Hyde Pierce may have never portrayed Niles Crane, the iconic role that earned the actor four Emmy Awards.

    In fact, there was no definite plan to even give Frasier Crane a sibling until an assistant casting director showed the series creators a headshot of Hyde Pierce, saying:

    "Doesn’t he look like Kelsey [Grammer] did 10 years ago?"

    Impressed by the resemblance, Frasier's creators did some digging into the actor's past roles. After seeing him portray a quiet, suicidal Congressman in the short-lived sitcom The Powers That Be, they set up a meeting with Hyde Pierce. It only took a brief interview to convince them to offer him the newly created role of Frasier Crane's younger brother.

    "I met with the producers, and we just talked for about 45 minutes, about what the brother might be,” Pierce recalls. “Niles was going to be a Jungian and Frasier was going to be a Freudian - things like that were tossed around. Not long after that, they offered me the part, and I thought, ‘What part?’ I hadn’t seen a script," Hyde Pierce told the Los Angeles Times in 1998.

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    1,178 VOTES

    Matthew Perry Doesn’t Remember Three Years Of Shooting ‘Friends’ After A Jet Ski Accident Accelerated An Addiction Problem

    Matthew Perry Doesn’t Remember Three Years Of Shooting ‘Friends’ After A Jet Ski Accident Accelerated An Addiction Problem
    Photo: NBC

    Perry was determined to become a famous actor; in a 2002 interview with the New York Times, he admitted, "There was steam coming out of my ears, I wanted to be famous so badly. You want the attention, you want the bucks, and you want the best seat in the restaurant."

    His dream came true shortly after he landed the role of Chandler Bing in the ensemble sitcom Friends. He played Chandler from the time he was 24 until he was 34. "I was in the white-hot flame of fame," Perry told The Today Show in 2013. "The six of us [the lead actors on the series] were just everywhere all the time." 

    But despite having the fame he had craved, Perry was struggling. "From an outsider's perspective, it would seem like I had it all. It was actually a very lonely time for me because I was suffering from alcoholism."

    But alcoholism wasn't the only issue that Perry struggled with. He was prescribed Vicodin after being involved in a jet ski accident in 1997 and quickly became addicted to the pills. "It wasn’t my intention to have a problem with it,” he told People in 2002. “But from the start, I liked how it made me feel and I wanted to get more.”

    In 2016, Perry admitted to the BBC that he doesn't even remember filming three years of the show. "I was a little out of it at the time - somewhere between Seasons 3 and 6."

    Perry first went to rehab in 1997. In 2000, he developed pancreatitis. As his life spiraled out of control, his Friends' co-stars tried their best to help, but as Perry admitted to People, "I wasn’t ready to hear it. You can’t tell anyone to get sober. It has to come from you."

    In February 2001, Perry reached out to his parents for help. "I didn't get sober because I felt like it,” he told the New York Times. “I got sober because I was worried I was going to die the next day." He re-entered rehab, where he stayed for more than two months before returning to work.

    In the years since, Perry has continued to act but has also dedicated himself to using his own experiences to try and help others who have struggled with addiction.

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    903 VOTES

    Paul Reiser Thought Helen Hunt Would Be Perfect For 'Mad About You' After Meeting Her At A Mutual Friend's Dinner Party

    Paul Reiser Thought Helen Hunt Would Be Perfect For 'Mad About You' After Meeting Her At A Mutual Friend's Dinner Party
    Photo: NBC

    When Paul Reiser came up with the idea for Mad About You, he loosely based the concept on his real-life marriage. And his real-life wife, Paula Ravets, played a significant role in Helen Hunt being cast as Reiser's on-screen partner.

    Reiser had not decided on the actor he wanted to play Jamie Buchman when he first met Hunt. 

    "My wife and Helen had a mutual friend, and they had a dinner party, and this was just when I was writing the first episode [of Mad About You] ... I had no actress in mind," the actor-comedian said in an appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show. "And I met Helen, and she was just funny and smart and just kooky enough and off-balance enough and smart. We left, and I said to my wife, 'What do you think about her as you?' She went, 'She'd be great.'"

    Reiser added that he never would have cast Hunt if his wife had objected to the idea.